Happy Independence Day!
Hello, my name is Wade Steen.
I am, or was, a member of the STRS Board of Trustees, depending on who you believe.
I want to thank all the teachers, retired and active, for choosing to be teachers, and for your service to all of us.
It was on this day, 247 years ago, that the Declaration of Independence was adopted. You might say that the original thirteen colonies were the very first reformers.
I am fighting to stay on the STRS Board. So that I, along with other reform-minded board members, can bring much needed change. Since joining the STRS board, almost seven years ago, I've been advocating for transparency and accountability. In May, Governor DeWine unlawfully removed me from the STRS Board, preventing me from participating and voting in meetings, so I've filed a lawsuit to keep my seat on the board.
I accepted this unpaid position on the STRS board because I care about Ohio's future. This is where I grew up and lived. This is where my children grew up and live now, and it's where my grandchildren will grow up.
Words cannot express the gratitude and respect that I have for teachers. So today, on the day of our independence, I want to say thank you, thank you for choosing to do what you do. Thank you for being more than just a teacher to me. You're mentors. You are supporters, advisors. Some of you are my coaches and you're role models. You saw potential in me and you encouraged me to work hard. You taught me and my classmates to respect each other, accept each other and help each other.
Many people have asked me this, "Wade, why is this so important to you?" I think everyone remembers that one teacher who had an incredible impact on their life. Well, for me, it was more than just one teacher. It was many. My accounting professor at Ohio State, Dr. T.J. Burns was well aware of my passion for public service and he challenged me with this question. He said "how are you going to make a difference with all this knowledge you're attaining?" And the answer is simple. I do what I do to honor the teachers that taught and molded me into who I am today.
I would like to thank the Ohio Retirement for Teachers Association, ORTA, who have established a Pension Defense Fund to support efforts like the current lawsuit to keep me on the STRS Board. Thank you to all of you who have made a donation. I am deeply honored.
I believe the law's on our side, but we're only at the beginning of our legal journey against the big powerful law firms hired by the Governor and STRS.
But you have my pledge, and my promise, which I will keep, that I will continue to fight for Ohio's teachers for as long as I am able.
Thank you for choosing to be teachers!
Wishing you and your families a very happy Independence Day!